In a strong indication of how important rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden is to the future of the franchise, new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam says the very first thing he inquired about when talking to the team’s football boss, Mike Holmgren, was the progress of Weeden’s development.
Haslam told the Canton Repository that when he sat down with Holmgren for the first time, he got straight to the point, and asked whether Holmgren believes the team has its quarterback of the future.
“The first question I asked him was, ‘Can Brandon Weeden play?'” Haslam said. “To win in the NFL, you have to have a quarterback. OK? So the question is, can Brandon Weeden play?”
It’s not surprising that Haslam didn’t ask whether Colt McCoy can play — everyone in Cleveland seems to have agreed that McCoy is the past and Weeden is the present and future. It’s also not surprising that Holmgren — who took Weeden with the 22nd pick in this year’s NFL draft — answered that he thinks Weeden can play very well.
“He said, ‘Yeah. He can throw the ball. He can throw the ball. He can play,'” Haslam relayed Holmgren saying.
Haslam also wanted to know whether the Browns’ second-round draft pick, Mitchell Schwartz, will be ready to play at right tackle and give Cleveland another good starter on the offensive line along with left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack.
“Is the right tackle going to be good?” Haslam asked Holmgren. “Because we have a great left tackle. We have a great center. NFL teams . . . generally, if you have two good tackles and a center, you’re gonna be in good shape.”
Haslam wouldn’t say anything about the job security of Holmgren, G.M. Tom Heckert or head coach Pat Shurmur, other than it’s fair to say that Haslam wants to see progress during the 2012 season.
And there would be no greater sign of progress than Weeden establishing himself as a franchise quarterback.